HOUSTON – Two determined sisters were reunited with their beloved Maltese Poodle, Byron, after an arduous battle to get him back.
Savannah Marino, 25, and 17-year-old Brianna Marino first spoke with KPRC 2 in June, heartbroken after they learned that despite being microchipped, Byron had been found and adopted out to another family through the Poodle Rescue of Houston group.
The Marino sisters’ story on KPRC 2 went viral, with viewers and the online community connecting the sisters with the help they needed to get their dog back.
“I think it’s really amazing. I mean to me it still feels like a dream, even now,” Brianna said.
Brianna and Savannah are now finally able to sleep much better. Sometime between December 31, 2019, and January 1, 2020, their beloved dog, Byron, escaped their yard.
“There were many sleepless nights where I would blame myself, and I would just cry,” Savannah told KPRC2′s Rose-Ann Aragon in June.
The two sisters did their due diligence, alerting the microchip company, their neighborhood pages, and social media.
“Hundreds of hours of work,” Savannah said.
Brianna kept Byron’s microchip information in her wallet in case she would ever need it. The two checked frequently, but after more than a year, they began to lose hope.
“We happened to check our microchip account 1.5 years later only to find out that Byron was no longer in our account,” Savannah said. “So we reached out to the microchip company trying to figure out anything we could, and they let us know that the Poodle Rescue of Houston had re-homed him to another family. They never contacted us and never reached out to us to let us know.”
The sisters contacted the Poodle Rescue of Houston who indicated to them that their hands were tied. The Poodle Rescue of Houston told the sisters that the new owners were not interested in giving Byron back since they had adopted him.
“Understandably, Byron is pretty cute, so I don’t blame them too much for not wanting to give him back, but we’re definitely glad he’s home,” Savannah said.
However, bringing him home proved to be a headache for the sisters.
“[The Poodle Rescue of Houston] tried to make us a deal so we would let the situation go, but we wouldn’t take it. We wanted Byron home,” Savannah said.
Byron was very special to the family. Their uncle owned Byron’s mother, and the sisters had helped bottle feed him. They had Byron since 2017 after their uncle gave him to the Marinos. The dog was Brianna’s support when Savannah battled cancer.
“A lot of people were really disappointed that something like this could happen,” Brianna said.
“They were very supportive,” Savannah said. “It was thanks to one of the viewers that commented on [KPRC’s] post that we were able to find our lawyer, Courtney.”
The sisters were connected with a veteran lawyer and animal-lover, Courtney Gahm-Oldham, who started to get to work right away while crediting the sisters for doing a lot of the investigative work before she became involved.
“[Gahm-Oldham] and the rest of the Frost Brown Todd Attorneys family were a great help in getting Byron home. They started the legal proceedings, pushed the Poodle Rescue of Houston to settle, and brought Byron home to us,” Savannah said.
Marino’s legal team said they had uncovered emails and other documents that were troubling to the sisters.
“The Poodle Rescue of Houston and the microchip company both knew that we were the rightful owners of Byron and chose not to notify us or contact us in any sort of way,” Savannah said.
Marino’s attorneys also said the microchip company’s fine print allows them to argue that what they did in this situation is perfectly legal. The Marino’s are still taking legal action against the company.
“You trust these companies to take care of your dog. These are your family members. You’re trusting them that if your dog ever gets lost or taken or whatever the case may be, they’re going to be there to help you get your dog home, not just transfer them because someone else said it was okay,” Savannah said.
With the help of Gahm-Oldham, Byron was returned to the family in less than a month.
“We had a small little get-together for him to be home,” Savannah said.
Soon enough everything was just like before.
“I’m very excited to spend a lot of holidays together, especially Christmas!” Brianna said.
“Never letting him out of my sight again,” Savannah said.